The Best Birthday Present

He has introduced the world to a people the world never knew existed: Humans of Pakistan
Brandon Stanton has introduced the world to a people the world never knew existed: Humans of Pakistan

My younger brother’s birthday falls on Wednesday. But he has managed to get his presents out of everyone, except myself. He does not believe in wait and I do not believe in haste, and it’s a quiet understanding between us such that he doesn’t ask and I do not say. The best presents should be saved for the big day, that’s what I believe. Or believed, until this gentleman, Brandon Stanton, came along. Pakistan has gotten her best birthday present with the onset of the month of August, while her big day is almost two weeks away. And little, if anything, can compete with this globally coveted gift that this stranger has brought her.

Brandon Stanton of the hugely popular Humans of New York visited Pakistan. And he brought his camera along. Since then, his timeline has been featuring photographs of a people the world never knew existed: Humans of Pakistan.

I was born and bred in Pakistan, and for all its downsides, there is no place in the world where I’d rather be. Let’s see. The image of Pakistan invokes images of darkness. It is a place most people fear living in, and so they hate it. And fair enough, there’s a war going on here.


Reason governs neither love nor hate


But, guess what, it is us that this war is damaging more than it will ever damage you. The terrorists you hate us for harbouring, stab our children to death, not yours. Peace has been jeopardized. Ours, not yours. Glory has been lost, happiness forsaken. Ours, not yours. Infrastructure vandalized, industries crumbled, government failed. Whose? Ours. Not yours.

And yet it is you who hates our country, and us who love it.

Why? Because reason governs neither hate nor love. You see a picture of a people burning and you hate not the fire, but the people. You are untouched by the flames, we are consumed by them. But we continue to love our

The media does not tell you about how a father holds his newborn baby in trembling hands, as overwhelmed by the blessing, as afraid of the responsibility
The media does not tell you about how a father holds his newborn baby in trembling hands, as overwhelmed by the blessing, as afraid of the responsibility

land regardless. Just like you continue to hate it – regardless. Because reason governs neither hate nor love.

But Brandon Stanton changed that. He has shone a dazzling light into your blindfolds, and whether or not you take them off, you know that it is there and that it is coming straight from Pakistan which, in case you didn’t know, means the Land of Pure.

The media does not misinform you. It under-informs you. The media’s account of Pakistan goes not beyond terrorism and the like. It does not touch upon how, every day in Pakistan, women freshly out of labour carefully hand their new born babies in their fathers’ trembling hands, both of them as overwhelmed by the blessing as afraid of the responsibility. It does not tell you how, every day in Pakistan, some family gathers in the living room to see their child take his or her first steps. It does not tell you about the children who rush home with prizes from school and proudly show them to their parents.

No. It doesn’t tell you how youths fall in and out of love in days, none the while voicing what convention doesn’t deem appropriate. It doesn’t tell you about the people who are lonely in a crowd and turn to none in the day but to One in the night. It doesn’t tell you about their convictions. It doesn’t tell you whence they derive their strength.


The media does not misinform you. It under-informs you


No. The media doesn’t tell you how the people of Pakistan, so proud in the day, kneel in front of God and beg for repentance before they can return to being proud in the morning.

Not at all. The media does not tell you how every family that gathers at a death parts with the words “We shall meet again in happier times,” until they meet again at another death. It does not let you in on the human side of Pakistan. It doesn’t let you know that people in Pakistan are just as human as you and lead lives just as human as yours when, in fact, they are going through agony of a nature your mind is incapable of comprehending.

So, thank you, Brandon, for acquainting the world with the simplest, most pure accounts of the lives of

The people of Pakistan  are going through agony on a scale your mind is incapable of comprehending
The people of Pakistan are going through agony of a nature your mind is incapable of comprehending

Pakistan’s Humans. What you are giving to them is still information, just of a different, more relatable kind. And not to mention, heart-warming. Pakistan cherishes your presence even more than this present. The wind that shall blow from this land henceforth, shall carry the story of the simplest, most pure Human that ever visited us from the world outside.

Special thanks:

Hunza, and all the beautiful people in it.

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8 thoughts on “The Best Birthday Present

  1. I was pretty psyched when the HONY photographer anounced he was going to Pakistan:) Theres part of the motherland I’ve never seen before, so I suppose this is as much for people outside of Pakistan as it is for Pakistanis as well

  2. Awesome blog there…..5 fingers are not equal-Everyone is different so we definitely cannot generalize someone over a generalized prejudiced statement shown by mainstream media
    Having said that…Pakistan is the most beautiful country on Earth 🙂

  3. Naima, I have come across your work as a really refreshing example of rarity so to speak. You are able to evoke the sentiment of the reader with your expertise in versatility and have captured the essence of Hony’s visit with great detail.

    All that I have come across is banter and negativity in light of Pakistan’s struggles and the problems we have been facing in the aftermath of the 9/11 invasion and the violence that has engulfed us since then. I am myself responsible individually for always thinking on the lines of negativity in respect to Pakistan and do not vest my love for the motherland properly. But kudos to writers like you, who have the ability to rank out the positive image of our nation and portray it globally. Stay blessed and more power to writers like you.

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